Tag Archives: Anatoliy Tsyganok

The Results of Reform

Trud’s Mikhail Lukanin offered an interesting one last Wednesday . . . with help from other frequent commentators, he takes a swag at describing the results of Anatoliy Serdyukov’s nearly 4-year tenure as Defense Minister.

It’s interesting because it’s unclear if Lukanin’s article is intended to damn by faint praise, to be sarcastic, or was ordered by someone.  Maybe he intends to say these are just results, the good and the bad.

It’s easy to see some good in Lukanin’s first five, but his final three are pretty much unleavened.

The Army’s Become More Mobile

Lukanin quotes Vitaliy Shlykov:

“Until 2008, our army looked like fragments of the old, Soviet one, weighed down with heavy weapons, oriented toward global nuclear war with practically the entire world.”

He says even in the August war against Georgia the army was still “Soviet” — slow to stand up, with an archaic command and control structure.  But now the situation’s changed with mobile brigades that can answer an alert in 1 hour instead of days.

The Army’s Rid Itself of the Spirit of the Barracks

Valentina Melnikova tells Lukanin that the soldier’s life has changed cardinally under Serdyukov.  She says, until recently, one-third of soldiers were typically involved in nonmilitary work every day.  Now soldiers are gradually being freed from such duties as commercial firms take them on.

New Equipment Has Come to the Troops

Lukanin writes that finally a start’s been given to the largest rearmament of the army in post-Soviet times.  One that will take new weapons and equipment from about 10 percent of today’s inventory to 90-100 percent [official sources only claim 70 percent] by 2020.

Lukanin quotes Ruslan Pukhov:

“The Navy alone will receive 40 submarines and 36 new ships, and the Air Forces 1,500 aircraft in the next decade.”

Officer Pay Has Grown

Lukanin says lieutenants and majors made 14 and 20 thousand rubles per month respectively before Serdyukov’s reform,  but now 50 and 70 thousand if they receive premium pay for outstanding combat training results.  And from 2012, premium payments will be included in their permanent duty pay, and 50 thousand rubles will be the minimum base pay for officers.

Lukanin quotes Aleksandr Khramchikhin: 

“The officers of our army are actually comparable with the armies of developed countries in pay levels. “

They Didn’t Talk Reform to Death

Lukanin says experts think it’s good Serdyukov’s reform was pursued energetically, without lengthy discussion and debate.  Pukhov gives the cut from 6 to 4 military districts as an example:

“At one time, it would have taken years to transfer a huge quantity of officers and generals from place to place, but the Defense Ministry did this in just 4-5 months.”

They Stopped Training Officers

Lukanin refers to Serdyukov’s halt to inducting new cadets into officer commissioning schools until at least 2012.  He says 2010 graduates were either released or accepted sergeant positions.  This led to the departure of experienced instructors, and their replacement with younger officers lacking the necessary experience.

Sergeants Almost Ceased to Exist

Contract sergeants were dispersed in 2009-2010.  The Defense Ministry considers them poorly trained, and in no way superior to ordinary [conscript] soldiers.  Now it’s counting completely on conscripts with an even lower level of training.

There’s Nothing to Defend Against China

Here Lukanin notes that some results of reform have put people on guard.  Anatoliy Tsyganok tells him tank units have been practically eliminated: 

“Now only 2,000 tanks, old models at that, remain in the army.”

In Tsyganok’s opinion, tanks are still very relevant for the defense of Russia’s border with China.

What do we make of all this?

  • It’s good that the Russian Army was restructured into smaller, more combat ready formations, i.e. brigades, and sub-units. 
  • We really have no clear picture of the extent and success of outsourcing nonmilitary tasks in the army.  Meanwhile, the “spirit of the barracks” is alive and well when it comes to dedovshchina and violence in the ranks. 
  • The promise of another rearmament program shimmers on the horizon, but it’s not delivering much yet, and there are plenty of serious obstacles to completing it. 
  • The officer pay picture has improved, but the Defense Ministry has real work to do this year to implement a fully new pay system next year.  Meanwhile, several years of premium pay have caused divisions and disaffection in the officer corps. 
  • Moving out smartly on reform was a change over endless talk, but there are areas where more circumspection might have served Serdyukov well. 
  • The Defense Ministry definitely had to stop feeding more officers into an army with a 1:1 officer-conscript ratio.  We’ll have to see what kind of officers the remaining VVUZy produce when the induction of cadets restarts. 
  • Aborting contract service cut the army’s losses on the failed centerpiece military personnel policy of the 2000s.  But something will have to take its place eventually to produce more professional NCOs and soldiers. 
  • Russia is probably right to deemphasize its heavy armor.  It doesn’t appear to have much of a place in the coming rearmament plan.  And tanks really aren’t the answer to Moscow’s largely unstated security concerns vis-a-vis China anyway.

So what’s Serdyukov’s scorecard?  A mixed bag.  Probably more good than bad, but we’ll have to wait to see which results stand and prove positive over the long term.  Definitely superior to his predecessor’s tenure.  Expect more Serdyukov anniversary articles as 15 February approaches.

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The Navy and State Armaments Program 2011-2020

One could make a study of nothing but forecasts about the Russian Navy’s future.  They vary pretty widely.  But Trud’s military correspondent, Mikhail Lukanin, published an interesting and realistic one on 24 November.

Lukanin claims the details of future Navy procurement plans have been revealed to Trud.  This assumes the Navy (or someone) actually knows what they are at this point . . . a debatable proposition.  At any rate, what he presents sounds pretty reasonable and achievable, whether or not it has any official sanction.

Lukanin breaks the news that the largest part of Russia’s military expenditures and arms procurement over the next 10 years will be for the Navy.  He cites Ruslan Pukhov:

“Of the 19 trillion rubles allocated in the budget for the purchase of new armaments until 2020, the fleet’s share comes to 5 trillion, that is significantly more than any other service of the Armed Forces.”

If this turns out to be true, it is a significant amount, 500 billion rubles (more than $16 billion) per annum over the coming decade, if the Defense Ministry gets its promised amount, and the Navy gets its.  Lukanin says the Navy, which got only four new ships in the last 20 years, will be the military’s priority for the very first time.  He says, according to ‘plans,’ the Navy will receive 36 submarines and 40 surface combatants.

Lukanin explains all this with a quote from former First Deputy CINC of the Navy, Fleet Admiral Ivan Kapitanets:

“Sharply reinforced attention to the fleet is explained by the fact that Russia’s military-political leadership, judging by everything, has come to the conclusion that the state’s naval power is more important than ground forces.”

He points to the rapid U.S. defeat of a strong Yugoslav Army in 1999 using only air power, much of which was carrier-launched.

But Lukanin also cites Anatoliy Tsyganok, who believes a continental power like Russia can never undervalue its land troops.

With all this said, Lukanin addresses what will come out of Russia’s new ‘naval concept’ in which the U.S. is no longer the enemy, and ships aren’t built for a single purpose like killing carriers.  He lists:

  • 8 SSBNs.
  • 22 SSNs and diesel-electric submarines (yes, this would be 30, not 36, as it said at the top, and at least two of the SSBNs are complete, well almost).
  • 12 frigates like the new Admiral Gorshkov frigate (proyekt 22350).
  • 20 Steregushchiy corvettes (proyekt 20380).
  • 10 amphibious landing ships, 4 Mistral type ships and 6 Ivan Gren-class LSTs (proyekt 11711).

Citing unnamed ‘analysts,’ Lukanin posits four missions that would be fulfilled exclusively by Russia’s naval forces:

  • Securing Russia’s oil and gas resources, facilities, and transport on the world’s oceans.
  • Protecting maritime trade links from piracy.
  • Providing a naval counterweight to China’s population and military manpower on Russia’s Far East borders.  Lukanin’s analysts contend the Chinese Navy is relatively weak, and the “Pacific Fleet even in its current, far from perfect condition is superior to the Chinese in combat potential by several times” (was the same thing said about the Japanese before Tsushima?).
  • Showing the flag in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Latin America to interest countries in closer ties and arms contracts with Russia.

Lastly, Lukanin looks at how the importance and roles of Russia’s individual fleets will change.  He calls this the turn to the Pacific.  He says the Pacific Fleet will get most of the Navy’s large surface ships, and half of its nuclear submarines.  It will get the first Mistral, and has the mission of deterring both China and Japan.  The Northern Fleet will retain its importance as home to many SSBNs, and because of Russia’s oil and gas claims in the Arctic.  But its surface force will decline.  The Black Sea Fleet will be a focus of renewal; it is looking at a Mistral, 12 new corvettes, and 6 new submarines.  Its focus is Georgia, and South Stream.  The Baltic Fleet will be reduced, losing ships to the Black Sea Fleet, though it will get 2-3 new corvettes.

So what it comes down to is, can the Navy get everything Lukanin listed?  ‘Back of the envelope’ math says yes.  What he listed might cost $30 billion, maybe $40 at the extreme.  There is also stuff the Navy’s discussed but he didn’t mention (carriers, refurbishing CGNs, restarting the WIG program, new naval aircraft).

What are the impediments to carrying off such a program?  Firstly, actually getting the promised amount of financing.  GPVs are easy to launch, but don’t get finished before they’re superceded by another one.  In short, over a ten-year period, it’s unlikely the Navy will get the planned amount.  Even if it does, how much will the corruption ‘tax’ eat away at the amount?  Short answer – a lot. 

Beyond financing, there’s another complex issue – can Russia’s naval industry produce this list in the coming decade?  How much productive capacity is available, what condition is the infrastructure in?  Is there sufficient skilled labor for what shipyards pay and where they’re located?  Recent experience says things aren’t good on this score.  Some yards are still pretty full with foreign orders, Sevmash seems full with Russian orders, and other yards are in poor shape.  In short, it seems it is taking longer than planned to get new ships and submarines in the water.

Perhaps the present author is just not an optimist.  Moscow can afford the ‘plan’ Lukanin describes, but actually completing it will be difficult for a lot of reasons.

Tsyganok on the GPV and the OPK

Anatoliy Tsyganok

Interviewed in yesterday’s Svpressa.ru, defense analyst Anatoliy Tsyganok expressed his doubts that trillions of rubles can save Russia’s OPK, its defense-industrial complex.

A quick summary.  Tsyganok seems to make the point that, while there’s an armaments plan, the OPK is still in a woeful state of neglect, i.e. the Bulava’s producers may actually be better off than many defense enterprises.  Much of what is leaving the factory gates still heads for foreign buyers or requires expensive repairs because quality is lacking.  Perhaps the OPK development (or maybe rescue) program needs attention before the GPV.  Tsyganok takes fewer Indian and Chinese purchases as a sign of quality problems.  Lastly, he says Moscow needs to rethink how it’s most likely to fight before picking what to make and who will make it.

But back to the article, Tsyganok gives his views on what might be bought with 20 trillion rubles in State Armaments Program (GPV) 2011-2020.  He mentions (sometimes without specific numbers or costs):

  • An-124 Ruslan — 20.
  • An-70.
  • Il-112.
  • Il-476.
  • Il-76MD.
  • Combat and transport helicopters — 1,000.
  • PAK FA — 70.
  • Yak-130 combat trainers.
  • Su-35 and Su-30 — 60 (80 billion rubles).
  • MiG-29K — 26 (25 billion rubles).
  • Su-34 — 32 (35 billion rubles).
  • Proyekt 885 Yasen SSNs.
  • Proyekt 955 Borey SSBNs.
  • Bulava SLBMs.
  • Proyekt 11356M frigates — 3.
  • Proyekt 636 diesel-electric submarines — 3.
  • T-90 tanks — 261.

There are, of course, lots of systems required that he doesn’t take time to mention.  New ICBMs, advanced conventional munitions, communications systems, satellites, etc.  He notes that the Navy’s needs alone come to several hundred billion rubles, and several ships and submarines he mentions are for the Black Sea Fleet.  The Ground Troops don’t get too much attention from Tsyganok.

Asked whether the OPK can produce modern combat equipment of the necessary quality and quantity even with sufficient financing, Tsyganok responds:

“Unfortunately, it has to be recognized:  many OPK enterprises are already incapable of series production of high-technology weapons systems.  The woes of the unfortunate strategic missile ‘Bulava’ are proof of this.  The picture is generally nightmarish.  A fourth of Russia’s strategic enterprises are on the verge of bankruptcy.  The tax organs have already issued liens for the recovery of debts against 150 defense plants and organizations.  Baliffs have already been sent there.  Who can work on the state armaments program there?”

“And don’t let the fact that in the first half of 2010 fully respectable growth of 14.1% in production was registered in the defense-industrial complex deceive you.  Mainly, as before, everything put out went for export.  Let’s say, over six months, our country produced 54 helicopters.  Of them, 31 went abroad.”

Asked if the poor state of defense plants is affecting the quality of their products, Tsyganok says:

“It affects it in the most immediate way.  Expenditures on eliminating defects in the course of production, testing, and use of our military products today goes up to 50% of the general volume of expenditures on the corresponding defense budget article.  In economically developed countries, this indicator does not exceed 20%.  The main reason is monstrous equipment depreciation.  And there’s no ray of hope visible there.  The rate of renewing the production base in the Russian defense sector, despite growing financial inputs of recent years, is not more than one percent a year.  In order somehow to get out of this hole in which we find ourselves, we would need to increase this rate by 8-10 times.  Incidentally, the reduction in quality of arms and military equipment produced is already noticeably reflected even in Russia’s military-technical cooperation with our traditional partners in this area.  With India and China most of all.  They are already not so intently signing contracts with us as before.”

What about design bureaus and scientific-research institutes?

“Also nothing to brag about here.  The fact is what the Russian defense-industrial complex can offer the Armed Forces in the near future, with a few exceptions, is already no longer the world’s best models.  And all this is because in the USSR’s time our country allocated up to 4.7% of GDP to basic research.  In today’s Russia, in all 0.16% goes to this business.  At the same time, in China, for example, annually ten times more is spent on scientific-research and experimental-design work.  And, as expected, next year it will catch up with the U.S.  As a result, in many military technologies, Russia is currently at a 1970s-1980s level.”

Finally, Tsyganok’s interviewer asks if there’s any way out of these dilemmas:

“There’s always a way out.  First of all, it’s essential to promptly review the goals and missions of the weapons complex.  We really have to understand whom we intend to fight, and what types of armaments are necessary for this.  Then the state defense order [GOZ] will take on more accurate contours.  As long as we don’t have this understanding, the situation will only get worse.”

Who Defends Officers?

On 13 April, Svpressa.ru made the point that officers don’t have a place to turn for help or protection against abuse in the army, unlike conscripts who have the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia (KSMR or КСМР).

In response to the suggestion that officers need a “Committee of Officers’ Wives and Mothers” to help them with problems in the service, KSMR Chairwoman Tatyana Znachkova said:

“There’s no one to defend officers, and many of them live unhappily, not better than conscripts.  So their wives could create a committee for their defense.  Officers or their wives actually have come to us very often in recent times.”

Asked what their complaints are, she says:

“Legal violations in the unit, low wages, problems with obtaining housing.  But we can’t help them.”

“So I advise them to create their own organization because their problems are so very great.  But they are silent.  It’s understandable why the officers themselves are silent, they’re not allowed to gripe, but why are their wives silent?  No one can prohibit them.  If the family is without housing, without work, without money, what’s to lose . . .”

Svpressa continues, many of the officers cut have been thrown overboard, without housing, without work.  So in Voronovo, near Moscow, where a unit was closed a year ago, residents say former colonels and lieutenants go around to nearby dachas offering to do repairs or any kind of work on the houses.  They do it to feed their families since they don’t have any other work.

Anatoliy Tsyganok tells Svpressa:

“Officers have now been thrown to the whims of fate.  There’s really no where for them to complain.  Their problems are resolved well only in words.  Look for yourself, in just the last year, more than 3 thousand officers discharged into the reserves without housing and deceived by the state about the payment of monetary compensation have turned to the European Court . . .  The main part of complaints concerns nonpayment to servicemen of money for participation in this or that combat action or peacekeeping operation.  Part of the complaints are collective.  And the quantity of such complaints will increase since there is more and more of a basis for them.”

Asked about the basis of complaints, Tsyganok says:

“Some officers are outside the TO&E, receiving a fifth of their usual pay for several years, although they are supposed to be in such a situation not more than half a year.  They are waiting for apartments from the Defense Ministry.  They have every basis for placing law suits in Strasbourg.  In the framework of armed forces reform almost all billets in voyenkomaty at different levels were cut.  And 90 percent of former voyenkomat officers, dismissed without apartments, will also appeal to the ECHR [European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg].  These are educated people who understand they won’t get the truth in a Russian court.  And their only hope is the European Court.  Today there are very many officers left without apartments.  They don’t know in what order, when and who will give them apartments.  These people have a direct road to the ECHR.”

Tsyganok goes on to mention how President Medvedev has promised to house officers, and claimed that an unprecedented 45,000 apartments were acquired for them last year.  Tsyganok believes the number was actually less than 30,000.  He notes that in St. Petersburg officers are being offered prefab housing, fit only for summer living, built for the Defense Ministry at a vastly inflated price (5-6 million rubles vs. 1.25-1.35 million market price).  Officers with apartments in abandoned military towns have to hope the nearest municipality will take them over and assume responsibility for services, but they usually don’t want to.

Tsyganok describes the difficulty in employing former officers.  Businesses generally don’t want anyone new over 40.  An initiative to use officers as teachers didn’t get off the ground.  So, according to Tsyganok, many officers choose between working for security firms or criminal groups.

He repeats his familiar lament that Russia is losing its well-trained, well-educated military intelligentsia—officers who completed 4-6 years in a VVUZ, mid-career branch-specific training, and 3 years in the General Staff Academy.  He concludes:

“So I presume, Russia is flashing back to the former Red Army.  In case, heaven forbid, of some conflict, I believe the current Russian Army won’t survive.  In these conditions, I think it doesn’t compare even with Georgia . . .”

Tsyganok says it’s absurd for an officer to have to repair dachas like a guestworker to feed his family.  It’s even more absurd for him to choose between security guard and criminal.  But the saddest thing in this situation is there’s no place from which to expect help.  So maybe officers need an organization to protect their rights, and in light of the current military reform, the need is very acute.

Organizations and institutions that exist, or have existed, to help officers are like most civil society in Russia—weak or eventually dispersed or coopted by the authorities.  There are ones that come to mind—the All-Russian Professional Servicemen’s Union (OPSV or ОПСВ), the Movement in Support of the Army (DPA or ДПА), and the All-Russian Officers’ Assembly that last met in 2005 or so.

On 14 April, Viktor Baranets picked up some similar themes, saying today’s reformist thinking from Defense Ministry and Genshtab chiefs is generally incomprehensible to Russian Army commanders.  For many years, they inspired the troops by telling how superior contract manning would be, and these serious intentions were underscored by hundreds of billions of rubles.  But the result was fewer contractees than before.  And now the Genshtab has said it’s changed its mind about more professionals and is reversing course.

Similarly, for years there’s been talk of ‘raising the prestige of the officer corps.’  And what does Baranets see in reality:

“And the fact is a large number of majors and even lieutenant colonels have started to be put in sergeant billets.  I’m not talking about captains and senior lieutenants.  Because, do you see, there aren’t enough professional junior commanders.  They’ve only just begun to train them.  But why do we need to ‘pay’ for the tactical calculation of reformers at the expense of downgrading people?  Putting officers in lower positions by every army canon is a form of punishment.  And no kind of service expedience can justify this violation.  And where is the logic even?  With one hand the chiefs give such officers impressive premiums for good service, and with the other they write orders on a transfer to a position which is not seldom even 4 steps lower than the one they occupy!  The rampage of personnel abuse has already gone to the point that they’ve already warned cadet-graduates of the Voronezh Military Aviation University [sic] (tomorrow’s lieutenants):  only those who graduate with a gold medal and distinction will get officer’s positions, the rest—sergeant’s.  In such confusion I don’t exclude that soon General Staff Academy graduates will command platoons.  It’s time for the Main Military Prosecutor to sort it out:  but how do these reform outrages accord with the demands of our laws?  But does it even make sense to put a specialist with higher education, whose 4-5 years of preparation cost the state millions of rubles, in a position yesterday still occupied by a junior sergeant who has secondary school and 3-months of training behind him?”

Viktor Litovkin noted this morning that Serdyukov’s Military Education Directorate Chief, Tamara Fraltsova, told Ekho Moskvy that the VVUZ system will again produce an overabundance of lieutenants this year for a shrinking number of junior officer posts in platoons, companies, and batteries.

Fraltsova said:

“Today the army has the right to pick the most worthy officers from the number of VVUZ graduates.  We’ve tightened the rules for passing examination sessions.  Now a cadet can be put out of the military-education institution for one 2, an unsatisfactory evaluation received in the course of a session.”

Litovkin says the overproduction of lieutenants (and decline in officer posts) led to young air defense officers being assigned to sergeants’ duties last summer.  A similar thing happened with VVS pilots; not every graduate-pilot could find an operational aircraft.  So great resources—3-6 million rubles per pilot—were poured into the sand.  Litovkin sees it as indicative of an armed forces reform in which great resources are expended in vain.  Not to mention the trauma to lieutenants who, against the law, are placed in lower-ranking duties.

Policy To-and-Fro on Military Police

State Secretary and Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov probably didn’t surprise a lot of people when he announced the latest Defense Ministry flip (or flop this time?) on the military police issue last week.

 Pankov announced that:

 “The Defense Ministry has found the establishment of military police inexpedient at this stage of Army and Navy reform.  Directive documents on the establishment of military police in the Russian Army have been suspended, and orders on the formation of these structures in the military districts and the fleets have lost force.”

 Later, the press quoted Pankov differently:

 “I wouldn’t say it so categorically – this work is suspended for now.”

But he didn’t elaborate on the Defense Ministry’s reasons for stopping or suspending the effort at this moment.

Military police units are, or were, supposed to stand up in 2010.  Their mission was to maintain order and discipline, and prevent hazing and other barracks violence and crime, primarily thefts of military property.  A military police department started working in the Defense Ministry’s Main Combat Training and Troop Service Directorate last December, drawing up plans and training programs for the new MP units.

In early February, a Defense Ministry representative denied press reports that Defense Minister Serdyukov had suspended work on the military police force.  But a source in the Defense Ministry’s press service told the media that “the documents establishing it have been sent to the appropriate legal directorates for reworking.”  He said that forming the military police would require amendments in federal legislation beyond the Defense Minister’s purview.

The back-and-forth, on-and-off nature of Russia’s yet-to-be created military police calls into question the Defense Ministry’s capacity to formulate and implement policies, or at least to do it so its doesn’t  look foolish.  Why would any military district commander or brigade chief of staff hurry to introduce any new policy or regulation that might just be overturned 6 months from now, or never implemented at all? 

As with the rumored halt in February, the latest stop may in fact be related to legal issues, but they usually only become an obstacle when they’re really protecting someone’s bureaucratic empire.  In this case, the military prosecutor and MVD are obviously very interested parties when it comes to devising a military police policy.  And they are pretty big hitters vis-à-vis the Defense Ministry.

The Defense Ministry already has plenty of people and organizations involved in military law enforcement, but they seem unable or unwilling to organize and cooperate to do the job.  Existing military law enforcement mechanisms could be made to work properly. 

Another sticking point may continue to be who will be in charge of a new military police force.  The prosecutor and MVD probably don’t want military police to answer to the Defense Ministry.  Military commanders could misuse or corrupt military police who would be enforcing laws on those commanders as well as ordinary servicemen.

Svpressa.ru talked to Anatoliy Tsyganok in this vein.  He said:

 “It once again attests to poorly thought-out reforms, zigzagging from side to side, senseless expenditure of resources needed for reequipping the army, and social programs.”

From the get-go, Tsyganok was against spending a ‘not small’ amount of money on a new structure seen as a panacea for all the army’s ills, at a time when the existing military command structure should be able to handle military police functions.

Tsyganok continues:

“. . . I came out not against military police per se, but against the dissipation of resources allocated for army reform:  the fact that they change conscripts for contractees, but then reverse this, the fact that they bring Yudashkin to design uniforms, but then chuck it, now here’s the confusion with military police.  It’d be better to use these resources on weapons for the army.  Russia’s military-industrial complex exports 90 percent of its production.  Aircraft to China and India, helicopters to Latin America and Middle Eastern countries.  Automatic weapons to Venezuela.  But the Russian Army scrapes by with old weapons.  At the same time money is invested in not well thought-out projects.”

“At present our servicemen who have violated order or broken the law are sent to do their time in basements, in special trenches, in storage areas.  Serdyukov doesn’t have financial resources even to build apartments for officers, there can’t even be talk about guardhouses.”

 “Now order among the troops is controlled by commandant (komendatura) forces, commandant patrols, commandant platoons and regiments, internal details; military traffic police structures are active.  This is a huge force.  For example, in Moscow there are 10 districts.  An integral commandant regiment patrols every district.  And is this little?  But military prosecutors, special departments [OO – FSB men—особисты or osobisty, embedded in large military groupings, units, and garrisons] also exist to maintain legal order in the army.  We need to force all this organizational and personnel mass to work effectively.  But for this the Defense Ministry itself needs to work effectively, and not spend money on schemes.”

 “The Defense Ministry leadership in answer to criticism about rampant crime in the army created nothing but the appearance of vigorous activity.  It’s hard to keep order, but forming something else at the expense of budget resources is easy.”

 “The failure of the project was sealed in its very organizational basis.  They proposed to subordinate the military police to the Defense Ministry in the person of the first deputy minister.  The fact is the very same operational structure of military control and repression would wind up in the hands of military leaders themselves.  This is a criminally corrupt thing.  Any Defense Minister, major troop commander, or independent unit commander could arrest on any pretext and end the contract of any inconvenient serviceman.”

Tsyganok kind of skirts around the issue without saying so, but it may be there’s not enough money to pay for building a military police force.

 Interfaks cited Duma Defense Committee Deputy Chairman Mikhail Babich, who called on the Defense Ministry to be more cautious about making changes in the armed forces and to avoid revoking its own decisions, as may be happening in the case of military police.  Babich is a somewhat critical and independent-minded member of Putin’s United Russia party.  He also said armed forces reforms require serious budget expenditures, so every time this or that program is dropped, the reasons should be closely studied and analyzed.  He concludes:

“I think the Defense Minister should hold to account those who were responsible for drawing up and implementing programs deemed unsuccessful.  First of all, this means the federal targeted program for recruiting professional sergeants in 2009-2015, which has not really started and the allocated money was spent on different purposes.”

Babich goes on to note that it’s still unclear what’s happening with Russia’s 85 permanent readiness combined arms brigades that replaced divisions in the Ground Troops.

“The Defense Ministry is keeping silent about this but it’s already clear that plans to establish permanent readiness combined arms brigades have fallen through.  As a result, it’s been decided to divide them into three types:  heavy, medium, and light.  Yet again everything is being done by rule of thumb.”

Will the Army Survive the Reforms of 2009?

Military commentator Anatoliy Tsyganok gives some of his familiar answers to this question in Polit.ru.

He lists three important factors that will determine the state of Russia’s defenses over the next 10-15 years (without necessarily fully exploring each):  information security, demographics, and weapons development.

He’d like to see “information troops” as a branch of the armed forces.  Not sure he could write his columns if they existed the way he describes them.  More interestingly, he asserts, by 2011-2012, the number of 18-year-old Russian males will be less than the number of conscript billets in the armed forces.  So something has to give.

Then Tsyganok spins off into a variety of interesting and familiar directions.

Regarding the shift to 3 levels of command, Tsyganok maintains it doesn’t improve the control over forces and it actually reduces combat readiness.  He questions whether the MD can transform itself from an administrative command into a warfighting front under modern conditions when it will have little time and may already be under attack.  Later he gives officer manning figures for the old regiments vs. the new brigades.  The former had 252 officers and more than 100 warrants against 900-1,800 soldiers and sergeants.  The latter has 135 officers against as many as 3,800 troops, so control is worse.

On the issue of tanks, Tsyganok says the reduced reliance on tanks might be right for a small war in the Caucasus, but a larger tank force remains useful elsewhere since not every war will be of the local variety.  With only 2,000 tanks, Russia would have only 285 for each MD and the KSDR, or 2 brigades and an independent battalion’s worth for each.

Tsyganok says the U.S. Army’s ratio of combat to combat support brigades is 1:3 and Russia’s is 1:0.88, leaving the latter deficient in combat support.  Without adequate combat support, the Russian brigade can’t cover the same kind of territory as its American counterpart, according to him.

Nor is the Russian brigade terribly mobile.  Tsyganok says, in Zapad-2009, one brigade rail marched 450 km in 7 days, while he claims a Chinese regiment exercising at the same time covered 2,400 km in 5 days.

Tsyganok is not impressed by Russia’s armaments program.  He asks why Russia should build new ships when it can’t maintain what it’s got.  He claims Russia’s ‘new’ corvettes will be outfitted with 20-year-old weapons.  Tsyganok complains that updating the electronics on 30-year-old Su-24, Su-25, and Su-27 aircraft doesn’t produce sufficiently combat capable platforms for today.

Turning to training and education, he runs through the familiar and modest results for 2009 (60 percent of the ‘new profile’ brigades got satisfactory evaluations) and reductions in the number of officers studying at the Combined Arms and General Staff Academies.

Tsyganok then tackles the formation of OAO Oboronservis to replace most of the army’s rear services.  According to him, it is quite a behemoth valued at perhaps more than a trillion rubles or 2-3 percent of Russia’s GDP.  He cites VVS CINC Zelin’s criticism of the high cost of capital aircraft repairs by its Aviaremont holding.

On military housing, Tsyganok says, the Defense Ministry’s claims notwithstanding, servicemen received less than 30,000 apartments in 2009.

He ends by discussing military corruption, which he describes as theft which knows no limits.  Officially, losses from economic crimes in the armed forces amounted to 2.5 billion rubles in 2009, adding to the 2.2 billion in 2008.

Tsyganok says:

“The prosecutor and other law enforcement mainly fight against low-level corruption, but they don’t touch its ‘apex.’  To increase the number of cases uncovered, they seize on rank and file corruption, but they don’t conduct a systematic fight against corruption in the ranks of the highest leadership.  Attempts to create special control organs still haven’t brought success:  in a thoroughly corrupt system, uncorrupted structures either don’t work or else quickly become corrupted themselves.  To ‘purge’ the main corrupt people, political will is needed, and we still don’t have it.”

It will be interesting to see if there is some kind of move against corruption in the Defense Ministry and other high places in the armed forces, as rumored during last week’s command changes.  The rumor probably shouldn’t be believed until some solid evidence appears.

Defense Ministry Considering New Ranks?

An old story worthy of a slow Orthodox Christmas Day…. 

In mid-October, an unnamed source told Interfaks that the Russian military might introduce a new rank–either ‘brigade general’ or ‘senior colonel’–in between its colonel (O-6) and general officer ranks.  The story called forth a variety of official and semi-official reactions. 

According to one account, the Defense Ministry termed discussion of a new rank “premature.”  Other accounts said no decision on the introduction of a new rank had been made.  Others dismissed the story as pure rumor, saying the issue was not being worked in the Genshtab or Main Personnel Directorate.  One Genshtab source attributed the story to the imagination of journalists. 

The Interfaks source said the Defense Ministry might confer a new rank on the commanders of its 85 new permanently ready Ground Troops brigades and 33 air bases.  The new rank would supposedly “enhance their status,” and distinguish them from “ordinary” colonels. 

However, in late November, State-Secretary and Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov said the issue of new ranks was speculation, and had not even been raised.  He said the current rank structure would remain, and denied that either ‘brigade general’ or ‘senior colonel’ would be introduced. 

Deputy Defense Minister Pankov Said No New Ranks

Who knows whether a new higher rank would be significant to Russian officers?  One new brigade commander said that, when you’re living month to month, higher pay is the best incentive and recognition.  The best commanders are already being ‘incentivized’ with Serdyukov’s premium pay.  But, in a couple years, all officers are supposed to share in a new and significantly higher base pay scheme.  

Several well-known defense commentators like the idea of a new rank to distinguish the new brigade commanders.  Anatoliy Tsyganok says he is more concerned about whether they will receive the education and training needed to become operational and operational-strategic commanders at a time of wholesale changes in the Russian military educational system. 

‘Brigade general’ or brigadier would fit well into the current Russian system, since a Russian one-star is a General-Major.  Moscow reportedly would not go with ‘senior colonel’ because it might look like Russia was following the lead of China, North Korea, and Vietnam. 

If this issue comes back around, it’s worth remembering how Pankov flatly denied it.